Free Your Space: Reduce Mental Clutter for Parents | Regulating Big Emotions in Kids

Guests: Denaye Barahona and Caitlin White | Season 9, Ep. 373

Dr. Barahona is a family coach, author, and the host of the Simple Families Podcast.

Her work has been featured on Netflix, Real Simple Magazine, The Today Show, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and many more.

For the past 15 years, she’s had the experience of partnering with parents in search of a more harmonious life with kids. 

Her doctorate is in Child Development with a research focus on family wellness.

She also holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Clinical Social Work with a focus on child and family practice.

Dr. Barahona is also a parent in the trenches with two young children herself.

During the second part of the show, Dr. Robin talks to Caitlin White, who is the Behavioral Specialists for Youth at the YMCA in Kansas City. She shares why they are helping kids regulate their bigger emotions in groups with peers. She also shares the ways kids are struggling to readapt being in big groups again, and some tips that can help kids feel more grounded in their daily routine.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “As the parent in the home, I am the thermostat. I’m setting the temperature for the people around me.”
  • “This idea of minimalism can feel very finite. It can feel very predetermined. Like, you get to this point and you’re a minimalist. Most people would walk into my home and be shocked to find out that we’re minimalist because it looks just like everybody else’s home.”
  • “When our amygdala is overreacting and our thinking brain isn’t functioning, well, then we’re not saying the things we want to be saying. We’re not staying as calm as we want to be staying. So, I think that as parents, when we ourselves are taking care of ourselves and we can maintain our own calm, we can be more intentional in the interactions that we have with our kids.”
  • “So, I think that it’s really the heartbeat of our existence, being connected to other humans. And in many ways, when it comes to kids, it is the biggest influence on their behavior.”
  • “We see some kids struggling with big emotional reactions, even to smaller things that weren’t previously a big deal such as parents dropping off, siblings being split out of groups, or things not going their way.”
  • “A kid’s routine should always include some downtime, even if that’s sitting with them at the end of the day and reflecting on things.”

What You’ll Learn:

Tips and tricks for parents to find mental clarity.

Why the YMCA is the biggest childcare centers in Kansas City.

What S.M.A.R.T. Connections is at the YMCA and how it helps parents and kids together.

This Episode Includes:

  • Denaye earned a doctorate in child development but in her twenties realized how little she knew about the growing up process.
  • Her goal is to teach parents more about this process so they can build empathy and patience with their children.
  • Denaye started the Simple Families podcast five years ago to help pursue that goal.
  • The mental load that Denaye talks about is made up of expectations from her childhood and things she saw modeled in society and other families.
  • Most people think the mental load is all about the tasks they need to accomplish, but it also includes their fears and worries.
  • The first step to reduce the mental load is to do a brain dump for an hour of everything you’re thinking about.
  • The next step is to categorize those ideas into execution, planning, and worry piles.
  • A lot of people are amazed when most of the ideas end up in the worry pile.
  • There are certain people out there that have a higher tolerance for clutter, and these are people who have baseline lower levels of anxiety and aren’t quite as bothered by their environment and their surroundings.
  • On the other hand, some people are more bothered by clutter and can’t tolerate it as much.
  • Denaye uses a red, yellow, green, and blue chart where you name your zone based on a color. The color you choose relates to how able you are to tolerate clutter.
  • When you are a parent, you set the tone for your family. That’s why it’s so important to know your zone and be able to manage it.
  • A clear mindset helps parents because they can use their thinking brain to react and remain calm with their children.
  • Denaye shares the example of how her family uses a visual calendar to set the schedule for the day with her kids.
  • She says now her children draw their own visual calendars when they have days off from school.
  • In terms of connection, Denaye believes that the less connected you are to someone the more negative feelings that will arise. Whereas, if you are more connected the opposite is true.
  • Regulating your emotions is a new way to help those struggling with mental health, which has been found to help you stay true to yourself.
  • Why routines and rituals help create connection because this avoids anxiety and stress in our lives.

Three Takeaways From Today’s Episode:

  1. Practice a brain dump for yourself. Spend one hour writing down every thought that’s in your head.
  2. Categorize those ideas into the three different piles: execution, planning, and worry.
  3. Consider how you can let go of some of the worries you’re holding on to so you can gain mental clarity.

Mentioned In The Episode:



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